Carjacking is a very similar crime to robbery. In fact, a carjacking is a robbery. Carjacking is defined under California Penal Code 215. I think the legislature just go more specific in these cases because people were specifically, and still are, targeting high-dollar cars, to take away from people by either force, fear, the use of a weapon or threat.
So, the legislature has gotten real specific about calling it a carjacking versus a robbery, even though it meets all of the elements of a robbery. It also has a lot of the same consequences of a robbery.
A “Strike” Under California’s Three Strikes Law
It’s a strike pursuant to the Three Strikes Law. It’s a violent felony, so you have to serve 85% of any time that you’re given by the judge, and obviously, it’s something you really don’t want on your record if you could avoid it.
So, you want to try, at least from a defense standpoint, to try to take it out of the gamut of the classic carjacking case where the person has targeted a specific high-dollar car and is trying to take it away from the other individual by force or fear..
A lot of carjackings I see are not necessarily for the car, but the person is just trying to take the car to use the car. In that circumstance, you might have a good argument to try to avoid a car-jacking conviction.
Obviously, if you can avoid it, you don’t want that on your record, you would rather have something like a grand theft person or some other theft-related offense that doesn’t have that negative connotation behind it and isn’t likely to land you in prison for a long period of time.
So, if you or a loved one has a carjacking expect that the prosecutors are going to want prison time. They’re going to want a strike on your record, and if you want to try to avoid that, your best chance is to have an attorney fighting with you who has handled these type of cases before.
One who has had success, knows what it takes to try to either defend the case, if there is a defense to the carjacking or if there’s not a defense, to try to mitigate it down to try to avoid some of the bad consequences like prison time and like a strike on your record for the rest of our life and a whole host of other potentially bad consequences when it comes to these carjacking cases.
Using Force or Fear to Commit Carjacking
Basically it is using force or fear in order to take somebody’s car away from them. Sometimes people will come up with a gun, point it at the person, tell them to get out of their car and take their car away.
Other times, I’ve seen a knife used. Other times, I’ve seen them catch somebody by surprise and pull them out of the car and violently hit and beat them and take their car away from them.
I think when you evaluate these carjacking cases, you want to evaluate them for what the person’s target was. How valuable the car was, whether there was any damage to the car, does the defendant have a criminal record, have they ever done something like this before?
These are all considerations when the prosecutors and judges are trying to decide what to do with these cases.
Fighting Carjacking Charges in Los Angeles
Another thing you want to look at is, do you have a defense? Maybe there’s an identification problem. The person can’t identify who the carjacker was and the police somehow have some thin evidence pointing to your guilt.
Other times, they’ve got you caught in the car, driving away with the car. The police end up pulling you over and then the person is able to identify you as the carjacker.
That would obviously be a case where you’re not likely to be able to defend the case. You’re going to have to work out a negotiated plea by using a good criminal defense attorney who can bring out all of the mitigating factors about you, your life, your family, your work and you as a person to try to avoid some of those bad consequences that come along with these type of cases.
What I do when I evaluate a carjacking case is, the first thing is I get the family in or the person that’s in trouble and I go over their full story with them, and when I do that I encourage them to tell me the truth about what happened.
So, I’m not under any false misconceptions, so I can properly represent the person. After I go through their whole story, then we talk about whether there’s any potential defenses, and lastly, we’re going to talk about damage control mitigation that we can do with the prosecutors that will make a difference.
For example, we can get some character letters about you. We could get a letter from your job. The job doesn’t necessarily have to know that you’re charged with carjacking, but they could just be giving a letter talking about your good character, that you’re a hard worker.
Because again, we’re trying to take you outside the gamut of being bad criminal carjacker to being somebody who is a productive member of society who just simply made a mistake.
Categorised in: Violent Crimes